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Shpg Gazette 20/2/14 - Part of Cathay Pacific fleet parked due to overcapacity and weak demand

PART of Cathay Pacific Airways' freighter fleet is expected to remain grounded as overcapacity and lack of demand dogs the air cargo market.

 

Hong Kong's leading airline took five of its 26 freighters out of service last year. It also agreed to sell six Boeing 747-400 freighters to Boeing, with the aircraft departing from the fleet between now and 2016, reported the South China Morning Post.

 

The airline's cargo volumes declined by 1.4 per cent year on year in January, following a 5 per cent drop in December. Cathay recorded volume growth in only two of the past 12 months, to handle a total of 600,000 tonnes of cargo in 2013.

 

"Freight rates are under pressure because of overcapacity in the market," said cargo director James Woodrow.

 

On top of overcapacity in the market the carrier has been hit by weak demand in the United States and Europe. Recovery in demand this year would hinge on the strength of the US economy, Mr Woodrow said.

 

Adding to Cathay's woes has been the scattering of production lines for Apple's iPhones and iPads in mainland China.

 

"In the past, we could wait here for the products to be trucked down from the production lines in the Pearl River Delta ... now we have to fly to new production centres in Chongqing and Zhengzhou," Mr Woodrow said.

 

Chief executive John Slosar said transhipments made up about half of the carrier's cargo tonnage from the mainland.

 

The airline's share of the market in carrying technology products is under pressure as the competition in inland cities is much tougher than that in its home base.